Tuesday, February 10, 2015


1. Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet remarked that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Perhaps from the complaints being made by Malaysians about Malaysia one might say there is something rotten in the state of Malaysia.

2. Many of these complaints reach me. I hope I am permitted to detail them here in my blog. People can decide whether things are rotten or not.

3. Some people complain that the Government seem unwilling to pay them for work done for the Government. There would always be a dispute whether the Government owes them anything at all. If the court decides that the Government has to pay there would be a dispute with regard to the amount.

4. Then there would be delays, sometimes for years. For business, delays can kill.

5. Then there are those whose contracts have been withdrawn for unknown reasons. Often it is given to someone else even after the contract documents have been signed.

6. Then there are those whose project submissions have been passed on to others. The others make bids at a higher price but the documents are identical. Frequently the first proposer or bidder has to go through tender process. This is only right of course. But the proposer as first bidder would find others have submitted what looked like his submission. Frequently he fails or has to raise his bid because the others have quoted higher prices or lower prices as the case may be.

7. Delays in getting approval costs. The reasons for the delays are frivolous and cannot stand scrutiny. Sometimes to speed up approvals gratification is offered. The party that offers pays and will not complain or report. It is unhealthy. You will need their services again and you may be blacklisted. Or you may find all kinds of obstacles.

8. Long before the permits or whatever is due to be terminated, notices for immediate termination were given. The authorities want to take over the business. The person concern may appeal. He is going to lose money. Sometimes the appeal is not answered, the authorities cannot be met and if meeting is possible, the applicant may be told that his loss is his problem, not the concern of the authorities.

9. Sometimes development permission cannot be given because some authority or powerful person wants the land. There is no one to appeal to i.e. no one with real authority. Even if you know who wants the land, you cannot do anything. He is too powerful.

10. Government-owned entities employing more than a thousand workers are suddenly given no job because some foreigner has been chosen to get the contract. The workers were sacked. And the Government facilities may just close down or get some minor subcontract from the foreign contractor.

11. Local companies with adequate competence are not considered for contracts because foreign companies can do the job, may be better, may be no better. Frequently the local companies are said to be too small to do the job. Lots of money flows out of the country.

12. We go all out to welcome FDI. But Malaysian entities with lots of money will not invest at home. They prefer to go buy properties in foreign land. The prices paid are sometimes indefensible. Again lots of money flow out of the country. And when profits are made, taxes are paid to the foreign country. Even when the money is brought back, no tax is paid to the Malaysian Government.

13. There is a need for investments at home, but that is not for local companies. Malaysians institutions with oodles of money would do better by buying foreign technology companies and bringing them home to improve our technological capacities. But there is no encouragement for doing this.

14. If a Malaysian company is in trouble, we seem to prefer bankrupting them and selling them to foreigners. Proposals to rescue by Malaysian white knights are not welcome. Due diligence cannot be done by the white knights for some unknown reasons.

15. After tin was exhausted it was assumed that there would be no more mining in Malaysia. Then we found that we still have lots of other minerals. But mining for these is not for Malaysians. They are for foreigners only.

16. No attempt is made to add value before export. Just dig the earth and export the things raw. And forests disappear along with the mining.

17. There was once some idea about being business friendly. Not anymore. The state competes with the private sector when the private sector seems to be doing well. With the power conferred on the state, there is no way the private sector can win. They lose. But the States also lose simply because business is not the business of the State. Still the trend and preference is for nationalisation.

18. Big is beautiful. So why have small business? Kill them. But big businesses were once small. If you kill small business, then they can never grow big. So how do we get big business if we kill them when they were in their infancy?

19. There is a lot of talk about the importance of Small and Medium Enterprise. But what is happening on the ground does not reflect this importance.

20. Today the actual administration seems less important than the extra administrative bodies which have been set up. This is very confusing to the public. It seems to be confusing to the administrators also. They do not seem to know what they are expected to do when policies and decisions are made by the special bodies.

21. Critics are being demonised by the mainstream media, by certain individuals and politicians who had lost. Critics risk their property being seized and auctioned, They may be bankrupted.

22. I am now being accused of forcing the Government to do things which should not be done.

23. And there are many more complaints about the state which would give it a rotten smell.

22. But not to worry. We will get use to the smell.

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